Suit Filed Over Motorcycle Training Course
Dealership Knew Machine Was Unsafe
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Harley Davidson dealership negligently caused severe injuries to an Albuquerque woman too short to safely ride the heavy, high-performance motorcycle she was being trained on, according to a lawsuit filed by the Will Ferguson & Associates law firm.
The woman, who had never ridden a motorcycle before, crashed in January 2011 during a Harley Davidson-sponsored “Riders Edge” rider-safety class. She had been recruited for the class by a salesperson in the showroom at Thunderbird Harley Davidson/Buell of Albuquerque.
During the training class, the 4-foot-11 woman lost control of the 500cc Buell Blast motorcycle she was riding, crashed into a pole, got tangled in chains hanging from the pole and lay trapped under the motorcycle’s hot exhaust pipe as it burned through the flesh of her leg.
“They had to literally cut her clothes off in order to get her loose,” said the woman’s attorney, Jesse Quackenbush. The crash left the woman, in her late 40s, permanently scarred from third-degree burns.
Quackenbush said the dealership knew his client was too small for the 390-pound motorcycle they were training her on. “One of the technicians at the store literally told the training instructor don’t put her on any bike under this roof because she is simply too small,” Quackenbush said.
Harley Davidson Motor Company promotes “Riders Edge” training classes in its sales literature. Its website boasts, “Just one class & you could be riding.”
The woman crashed during training the day before. Investigators for Will Ferguson & Associates videotaped trainees as they crashed repeatedly during other training sessions. Some of that video was shown during a news story aired in June by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque.
According to Jim Davis, a Houston motorcycle safety expert, Harley Davidson’s Riders Edge students are 35 times more likely to die in a training accident than students of state-sponsored motorcycle safety classes, largely because of the size and weight of Harley Davidson/Buell motorcycles used in Riders Edge training.
“The simple truth is that Harley-Davidson would not sell as many motorcycles if they put their students on Yamahas,” which are smaller, lighter and easier to train on, Quackenbush said.
The woman’s lawsuit in Santa Fe District Court seeks punitive damages against the dealership, its owners and the manufacturer, Harley Davidson Motor Company. The lawsuit specifies negligence and product liability.
The Will Ferguson & Associates law firm represents people seriously injured by the negligence of others and the families of persons who die because of the negligence of others. For more information, contact Will Ferguson & Associates at (505) 243-5566 or 1 (800) 251-5566.